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Part of USS Resolute: The masks we wear and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

6 – New friends and red alerts

Resolute
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“Nothingness and lotsa rocks indeed,” Raan murmured in a low voice to Burton as they rounded the gas giant and headed into the asteroid field. 

They’d checked out the planet nearby and discovered it was, indeed, uninhabited. There had been some indications of a civilisation, but since none of them were archaeologists of any kind, there was nothing of interest for them down there. 

“Okay people, what have we got?” he asked, a frown creasing his brow as he looked at the view ahead. There were rocks everywhere, some tumbling and twisting, crashing into each other like they were in a demolition derby. Others were larger and more sedate, like elderly high society matrons on the dance floor… once in motion, unstoppable. 

“Nothing on scans, sir.” A voice came from the science station. Female. Which meant Allen wasn’t on the bridge. Raan filed the thought away for now. 

“Okay. So no evidence of any blood dilithium?” That was odd. From the reports this should have been a prime location for new deposits. 

“No, that’s not what I mean sir. There’s literally nothing on the scans. I can’t pick up anything. No elements, rock composition. It’s like that asteroid field is just… not there.”

Raan blinked, and exchanged a look with Burton. “Could another ship in the area be blocking our scans?” 

“No sir,” the young science officer replied. “At least, I don’t think so. I can still pick up reading from the planet and the gas giant. It’s just the rocks. If I wasn’t looking at them, I’d say they weren’t there. I think something in the rocks might be blocking the sensors.” 

Raan gave a short nod. “Keep working, see what you can do with the sensors. Kovash, can you get us closer, perhaps distance will make a difference.”

She nodded, her concentration absolute as the Resolute nudged closer to the edge of the asteroid field. 

“You want closer, sir?” she asked, not looking over her shoulder at him but keeping her focus on her console. “Will be flying blind but possible.”

“No, thank you Kovash. Here is good. Ensign…” he turned his attention to the science officer, searching for her name. “Callahan. Any luck with those sensors.” 

Her lips were pursed, brow furrowed as her hands danced over the console interface in front of her. “Yes sir. There appears to be large deposits of something close to veltranian seven in the asteroids. It’s playing havoc with the sensors but I think with a tweak, I can filter… it out… there we go!”

She’d barely finished the sentence when the nearest large asteroid tumbled and turned through space in front of the view screen. As it did, a ship clinging to the rock came into view, it’s hull lights stabbing through the darkness and blinding them. 

“Sir! They have some kind of lazer weapons system locked onto us!” Callahan gasped. 

“Shields up, red alert,” Raan ordered, on his feet in a heartbeat. He never liked sitting down during emergency situations. It just didn’t feel right somehow. “Bring weapons online. Kovash, prep the ship for high speed defense. Callahan, tell me what I’m looking at.” 

The atmosphere was tense on the bridge for a moment, everyone waiting for the other ship to make a move. Raan deliberately relaxed, making sure his balance was good and centered on the balls of his feet. He thought better that way, prepared for everything. 

The other ship did not fire, and the asteroid turned. Raan frowned again. “It looks like it’s got legs?” A ship with legs didn’t make sense. It looked for all the world like a fat spider clinging to the rock, burying its legs beneath to hold on.

“Okay, it looks like they’re drilling modules,” Callahan replied, the entire bridge watching as the ‘weapon’ that had targeted them plunged down into the rock. There was a brief spray of debris and then it sank further. “Sir… with the alterations to sensors. It’s Blood Dilithium, sir. They’re mining Blood Dilithium.” 

“Cancel red alert. They’re not shooting at us,” Raan ordered. In fact, the other ship didn’t even appear to be aware of their presence. “Hail them. We need to play nice with the locals.”

The bridge door opened behind them and he looked back to see Bennett and Armstrong emerge onto the bridge. 

“Ah, good. Lt Armstrong,” he motioned her to take the fold down seat next to his command chair. “We’re about to initiate contact with our friends over there. Any insights would be most welcome,” he smiled and turned back to the viewscreen. 

“This is Commander Raan Mason of the Federation starship Resolute to the unidentified mining vessel on the asteroid. Please respond.”

Expectant silence stretched out on the bridge, all eyes turned toward the asteroid as it made another revolution and the mining ship came into view again. 

“Kovash, hold position relative to the mining ship.” Raan ordered and hailed again. “This is Commander Raan Mason of the Federation starship Resolute to the unidentified mining vessel on the asteroid. Please respond.”

There was a crackle and then something appeared on the view screen. It looked like a shock of unkemp red hair. There were no distinguishing features. No eyes, nose or mouth. 

“We ‘eard you the first fecking time. What do ye want?” a heavily accented voice demanded. “Oh, fer fecks sake. Aaver, ye’re a fecking kernestag!” A beefy hand appeared, grabbed the side of whatever camera was providing the feed and angled it downward. 

The view was not a lot different. There was still a lot of hair. An awful lot of hair. Red hair. And a red beard. Two beady and very suspicious eyes glared out of the mass of red at them. 

“I said…” the being snapped. “What do ye want? We’re busy.”

For once, Raan was on the back foot. He was quick to collect himself though. “Nothing other than a little information, my friend.”

“I ain’t yer friend.” 

“Of course,” Raan inclined his head. “I meant no disrespec—“

“Bored now,” Redbeard announced, his gaze sliding past Raan. “Although if you put the pretty wee lass on, we ken talk more.”

Keeping the surprise off his face, Raan turned to Talia and motioned her foreward. 

“In that case… May I introduce our chief counselor, Lieutenant Armstrong.”

 

Comments

  • How on Earth is a Scottish red beard all the way out here in the DQ? And what does he want with the pretty wee lass?! I really like the idea of these creepy mining vessels with legs, but I did kinda want to see them walking all over the hull of Resolute. Definitely a cool design. A really good plot development and unique, I was not expecting any of what you threw our way. Well done.

    November 12, 2022
  • Unknown Author

    How on Earth is a Scottish red beard all the way out here in the DQ? And what does he want with the pretty wee lass?! I really like the idea of these creepy mining vessels with legs, but I did kinda want to see them walking all over the hull of Resolute. Definitely a cool design. A really good plot development and unique, I was not expecting any of what you threw our way. Well done.

    November 13, 2022
  • After setting the stage with your engaging character spotlights, you've dropped the Resolute and your readers into some proper mystery. I love the twists and turns of "ghost" asteroids that turn out to be sensor-blinds hiding blood dilithium and spider mine-ships!! Such imaginative imagery you're using here; I love that I can imagine it all through your prose. Of course, you've also raised the question of why Quinn Allen didn't show up for bridge duty. That's suspicious.

    November 15, 2022
  • I'm loving your quick and artful introductions and ability to sell a character in quick order. And that's just the spider ship! Guess the crew were kinda interested as well, but in the shadow of a spider-ship, come on! The miners are a hoot and I can't wait for more of them to be honest. The mystery is a delight but honestly I'm holding out for more of your neat characters and quick evocative descriptions!

    November 22, 2022